Connected \\ September 20, 2019
His solo vision for shoes
One might be surprised to find out that PEM, Carrie Underwood, Kelly Clarkson and a host of other Hollywood elite share a common affinity: shoe designer, Thom Solo. Those who attended PEM’s 2018 Gala got to spend time one-on-one with Thom’s creations, including a pair of death-defying 10-inch heels commissioned and worn by Lady Gala.
Photo by Michael Blanchard
Peabody Essex Museum, Photography by Bob Packert.
Those shoes, and a selection of others, will soon make their way into PEM’s permanent collection. At more than 4,000 pairs, PEM’s shoe collection is one of the largest and most important in the United States. The collection includes everything from a pair of early running shoes to 20th century jeweled heels. We have a group of shoes that were displayed at the first World’s Fairs in the U.S. and demonstrated the exceptional designs, materials and construction techniques used by companies working in Lynn and Haverhill, Massachusetts and other U.S. manufacturers at the time.
In a true “pinch me, am I dreaming?” moment, I got to wear a pair of Thom’s iconic Fish-hook heels at the gala. No one believes me (unless they too have worn them) but these were the most extraordinary and comfortable shoes I’ve ever worn. And trust me, I have done the, well, footwork to stand behind that statement (sorry, I had to).
Thom’s approach to creating shoes combines mythology, identity and visual storytelling. Each collection is centered around a powerful female figure who inspires the collection’s origin story and guiding sensibility. When Thom’s creations are worn by female performers and artists, the power of the muse is amplified even further.
His most recent vision, the Astral Collection, depicts “the lineage of Salem with a modern day take on feminism merged with fashion.” Inspired by his time spent at the museum and in the surrounding Salem community, Thom chose PEM’s historic house collection as a backdrop to tell the Astral Collection’s story.